The next year isn’t just about the new devices that are hitting shelves.
It’s as much about the services that those handsets use and what trends they’re going to set in train. Apps and services are getting ever smarter, with phones a mere conduit for developers’ imaginations.
Whether it’s mobile payments or bolstering your exercise regime, here are the trends we think are going to be big in 2015.
1 NFC and mobile payments
It feels like NFC has been threatening to take off for the best part of a decade.
But while the tech’s use as a file transfer tool remains niche, it does look as if 2015 will finally be the year that NFC goes mainstream, thanks to mobile payments.
Apple Pay has a big part to play in that, Cupertino’s tool already showing a big uptake in the US It’s been boosted by the security of Apple’s Touch ID, but rival service Google Wallet has apparently seen a 50% rise in transactions since the launch of Apple’s effort.
With Apple Pay likely to get a European and Chinese rollout, paying for groceries and public transport with your phone should be the norm in twelve months time.
2 Health and fitness
Health tracking apps are nothing new. But health aggregation tools are.
Apple Health and Google Fit both play the role of one–stop shop for health tracking data, aggregating everything from distance covered while on a run to blood sugar levels.
At the moment, both products still feel as if they’re in beta, but as developers start building better apps using Apple HealthKit and Google Fit SDK, these services should become every bit as essential a smartphone tool as your Twitter app and your browser.
3 Wearables 2.0
Of course, wearables have a huge part to play in the fitness revolution.
While 2014 saw the smart watch finally take off, it’s yet to reach anything like saturation point.
However, as Google develops a new version of Android Wear and Apple finally gears up for the release of its much–vaunted watch, how these tools tally with our smartphones is going to become cleverer and harder to ignore for average consumers.
The Apple Watch has so much potential, with developers already working on apps that play nice across its small screen and the iPhone.
Meanwhile, new watches from LG, Samsung and Motorola should show us a less clunky future for Google’s wearable platform.
4 Native streaming
Apple’s purchase of Beats Music means that streaming services are going to become an essential weapon in the smartphone-maker’s battle for your hard–earned cash.
Rumour has it that Apple will bake a version of Beats Music into a future iPhone update, offering access to its paid for streams directly via the handset’s Music app.
Google’s new YouTube Key service is therefore likely to become a star attraction for new Android phones, as it looks to take on Apple and see off the might of trend–setting Spotify in the process.
5 A tighter Android experience
The dawn of Google’s Android One project, which sees it work directly with manufacturers to release phones that don’t rely on bloatware and offer the latest updates, points to a brave new world.
Fragmentation is still a huge concern, but 2015 should finally see budget mobile makers the world over looking to use Google’s new system in order to release affordable phones that offer the best services, getting hold of Google’s patronage in the process.
Expect to see a lot of these handsets appear over the next year.